People & Culture

Get more from sales by rewarding behaviours, not just results

Yet another in my ongoing series "everything we do in recognition is wrong".

It’s not hard to persuade the CFO to fund a results-based recognition or incentive programme, especially if the results you are talking about are financially rewarding to the company and are over and above the budget that’s been set. “Self-funding”programmes are always a win with the finance department.

But waiting and praising only successful outcomes can restrict a company from achieving its best. You’ll actually get more out of people if you reward the behaviours that contribute to long term successful results as well.

When looking in the calendar of one of our sales consultants I noticed how many client meetings he had in a certain week. He was travelling up and down the country and had one sales appointment in another country. The behaviours he was exhibiting were just what we needed – sales is to a great extent the result of the process you follow, the experience you gain and the volume you do.

Assuming you have an aptitude for sales and an open, learning approach then success is a function of time and effort. If you book more appointments, you’ll do more meetings, you’ll fail more frequently and therefore learn faster and you’ll end up winning more in a shorter period of time.

This guy was working at speed and had filled his diary with productive appointments. I mentioned to a colleague I was going to send him a thank you award – a voucher to spend at his favourite menswear store and the reply was

“shouldn’t you wait to see if he wins one of the deals first?”

I understand where that comes from. But my answer was “no.” If he wins the deals, he’ll get commission – that is his reward for a successful outcome. I wanted to recognize his behaviours.

Whether or not he wins one of those deals this week will include many factors some outside of his direct control. But I know that if he keeps up this level of sales output, he will learn faster, gain more experience and ultimately will win more deals with us. So my recognition of effort and process is valuable as it re-enforces a long-term winning behaviour and it also shows that I share with him the risk of what he is doing.

I know that sales is an imperfect science, he can work hard all week and may be unlucky and get nothing from it. I don’t want him to be disheartened by that, I want him to grow from it.

So don’t be too sparing with your praise when you see people live your values and display the behaviours that lead to success. I never get to the end of a week and think I have been too thankful!

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